PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) - It's the sign of success, pitchers hoping the Pirates call them for a workout, whereas they may have sent that call to voicemail just a few years ago.
Another pupil has signed on wanting pitching coach Ray Searage to rebuild a career.
Blake Wood, 30, made his major league debut in Kansas City in 2010, went 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 2011 before injuring his elbow which led to Tommy John surgery. The righty lost nearly 2 seasons before the Indians had him on last year's Opening Day roster. After 7 appearances with Cleveland, Wood had a 7.11 ERA and averaged over a walk an inning.
"The last couple of years have been tough because I haven't thrown the ball over the plate," said Wood who signed as a minor league free agent in November. "When you haven't been able to do that, it's hard to feel good about yourself. They've been able to get me back to just believe in myself, trust in myself and letting it go."
And that's where Searage has played a big part, Wood said the secret is making simple mechanical adjustments and keeping a players' confidence.
"I was happy the Pirates reached out to me," Wood said. "I saw what they have been doing getting to the playoffs the last few of years as well as guys that for whatever reason were having down years, they were able to turn around and bounce back."
So far this Spring, Wood has pitched in 5 games, has given up 2 hits and a run with 6 strikeouts and no walks.
Wood says he puts zero thought into scenarios about how he can make the club, saying he's been on both sides of those decisions. The Atlanta native says he does realize it's tough for a non-roster invitee to gain a spot on a 25-man roster because they would have to release somebody.
"I just want to put myself on the radar, show that I'm a big league pitcher. They wanted a guy that could get back to where he was if not better, and I think I'm back there," he said.
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